Friday, October 8, 2010

The Future of News, Media and Writing

I learned in the past week or two that newspapers had lost tens of thousands of jobs in the past few years. Which may not seem like a huge number, yet since 2001 about 25% of newspaper jobs have been lost. It is really not surprising that newspapers are closing. With the rise of the internet news is available to billions of people, free. Whereas a newspaper is limited by distribution, printing and journalist travel, the internet is not.

I feel that the recession has helped most of us in the developed world reevaluate how we spend our money. Eating in and saving money is as rewarding as eating out. Canceling a newspaper subscription is one way to save money. After all, most of the news is available on the internet as well. Is anyone really going to cancel their internet service to save money anyway?

This also provides an opportunity. A young person interested in writing can start at a very early age with a free blog and progress to more complicated traditional expensive writing outlets. Which is to say it is easier to get started as a writer. The barrier to entry is about twenty minutes of your time, probably less. Every industry can be categorized according to it's barrier to entry. Manufacturing cars has a high barrier to entry and writing used to have a high barrier to entry. However, an aspiring writer no longer needs a printing press or traditional publishing company to inform 100 or 10,000 people of an idea or event. Of course, this is assuming that success as a writer is defined as having a following and not the size of your paycheck.

YouTube has done a similar thing for videos. iTunes, Pandora, MySpace, and others have done a similar thing for music. Facebook has just accelerated the whole process for all sorts of media. The growing trend of amateur competitions to find the best performers such as American Idol will continue in one form or another in every media industry.

While it is not explicitly said, YouTube is where the next actors and film makers are now. Instead of film makers starting with a still camera at a young age and progressing to traditional film cameras when they can afford it, we are handing nine year olds video cameras.

Going back to the news, specifically newspapers, I can envision a time when there are no salaried writers, simply editors, fact checkers, and a slew of free lance writers that jump on a story and pump it out as quick as they can in the hope of getting the free lance fee first. At the extreme end of this imagine a Twitter feed scrolling continuously on CNN. Of course there could be an anchor reading the feed so that people don't have to read. There would also be pictures and videos, taken by more free lance people. Lest I paint an incomplete picture do not forget all of the advertising.

I think we are still years from having CNN be a continuous Twitter feed yet I feel that change is inevitable. We will still continue to consume media and information, probably many times more than we do now, and it will be different.

(On a side note, I jump around on topics in this blog. I do not intend to seem unfocused. I simply have many different interests and I am constantly learning different things. I am constantly learning how to function in this world. From create a documentary to write a book to be an engineer. I am constantly learning how to do.)

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